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How To Clean A Leather Purse – Guide from a Leather Crafter

We all have them – a collection of leather purses that we rotate out by occasion, season, or outfit.  But there’s probably one you haven’t used in a while because it’s dirty or stained, am I right?  I will discuss how to clean a leather purse so you can get that neglected bag back into your rotation.

Cleaning a leather purse requires removing dirt and debris from a leather handbag while protecting the material’s integrity.  Uses include everyday wear, spills, and stains.  Variations include mild soap and warm water, baking soda, and leather cleaner.  

Are you looking to find out how to clean a leather purse? Do you have a leather purse that looks a little worse for wear?  Let’s check out some tools, skills, and step-by-step tips for how to clean a leather purse.

What is Cleaning a Leather Purse? 

How to clean a leather purse is the process of removing dirt, debris, stains, and marks from the leather without causing damage to the fibers and protective finishes.  Handbags have a very different use life from most other leather products, making it important to take care of them wisely.

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Staines on A Brown Leather Purse

Uses for Cleaning a Leather Purse

Purses go through a great deal of daily use.  Over time, leather purses can pick up dirt, debris, spills, scuffs, and marks while we carry them.  We put them on the floor, spill things on or around them, and they’re transported everywhere. 

All of these activities can contribute to stains, unpleasant smells, and potentially even mold.  So it’s a good idea to clean a leather purse regularly.  Uses for how to clean a leather purse include the following:

  1. Everyday wear
  2. Spills
  3. Water damage
  4. Mold
  5. Stains
  6. Scuffs

Types or Variations of How To Clean a Leather Purse

According to researchers Navarro, Wu, Lin, Fullana-i-Palmer, and Puig, some leather purses are made out of recycled materials in the name of sustainability, which makes it essential to clean a leather purse gently and with the right products to maintain its integrity.  This is important when deciding which method to use when cleaning a leather purse. 

Mild leather soap or leather cleaner is best to keep those fibers intact and the leather looking clean and soft.

The first and probably easiest variation of how to clean a leather purse is with mild leather soap and warm water. Wipe the leather in one direction, wipe off with a clean cloth, absorb excess moisture with a dry cloth, and allow to air dry.

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For grease stains, use either cornstarch or baking soda to remove them.  Sprinkle the powder on the grease spots and rub lightly with a clean and damp microfiber cloth or old t-shirt.  Allow to set and dry for a few hours and rub the powder off with a clean, damp microfiber cloth.  Pat dry with a clean towel. Then clean with mild leather soap, and condition.

For a good quality leather cleaner.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on using the products and the leather purse manufacturer’s recommended cleaning instructions.

Tools Needed for Cleaning a Leather Purse

When you’re getting ready to clean a leather purse, there are only a few tools that you will need.  Start with a vacuum or lint roller to remove dirt and debris.  For the washing part, you will need a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt as these are soft and prevent scratching the leather. 

A mild leather soap is best for washing, but some good leather cleaners are available in stores and online that you may consider purchasing.  After all is said and done, you’ll also need a good quality leather conditioner for moisturizing and protecting your leather purse once it’s dry.

Test any product for cleaning or conditioning on an inconspicuous spot, such as the inner cuff of the leather purse, to test for color changes.

Skill Level of Cleaning a Leather Purse 

There really are no special skills needed to clean a leather purse.  There are just a few things you’ll want to think about so you can keep your leather purse looking great.  Leather is a complex material held together by fibers, which can be disturbed with strong detergents or cleaners.  Mild soap or leather cleaner is best to keep those fibers intact and the leather looking clean and soft. 

Test any product for cleaning or conditioning on an inconspicuous spot, such as the inner cuff of the leather purse, to test for color changes.  As long as you don’t use too much water and use the right leather products, you can keep your leather purse in great shape and master your skill level for cleaning a leather purse.

A Brown Leather Purse - How to Clean a Leather Purse - Liberty Leather Goods
A Brown Leather Purse

How To Clean a Leather Purse 

Hopefully, you’re feeling confident enough about how to clean a leather purse and are ready to start.  Here is a step-by-step guide on cleaning a leather purse:

1.     Begin by emptying the leather purse of its contents.

2.     Turn the leather purse upside-down and shake out dirt and debris.

3.     Vacuum out pockets and corners of the purse lining.

4.     Prepare the leather cleaner.

5.     Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt, apply the leathe cleaner.

6.     Wipe the exterior of the leather purse with the damp towel to remove any excess/residual cleaner.

7.     Use a dry microfiber towel to remove residual soap and moisture.

8.     Allow the leather purse to dry.

9.     Follow up with a leather conditioner.

Tips for How To Clean a Leather Purse 

For the best results for how to clean a leather purse, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Never soak a leather purse or use too much water. 
  2. Do not use harsh chemicals like bleach or alcohol.
  3. Treat spills and stains when they happen — don’t wait!
  4. Always condition the leather after you wash and allow a leather purse to dry.
  5. Consider consulting with a professional leather care person for difficult stains.

How to Get Better at Cleaning a Leather Purse

So, how can you get better at cleaning a leather purse?  According to authors Shou and Domenech, leather fashion has significant environmental impacts.  Knowing what type of leather purses you have and the right products to use are the most important.

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Get to know what types of leather products for cleaning and conditioning are available and how to use them correctly.  You will make mistakes, as we all do, but you’ll learn from them.  Always test new products on inconspicuous spots on a leather purse, so there’s no oops!

Examples of How To Clean a Leather Purse

Leather purses don’t need cleaning very often, but sometimes they should be cleaned to keep them in good shape.  Some appropriate times to clean a leather purse include:

  1. When you’re swapping out purses for a season
  2. If you’re having trouble finding things
  3. When you’ve spilled something
  4. If you notice scuffs or stains
  5. When the leather appears dirty or dull
  6. If the leather feels greasy or sticky
  7. When you can’t remember the last time you cleaned it

Check out this helpful video for more insight on how to clean a leather purse and remove color transfer from denim.

Related Insights

How do you clean dirty leather purse handles?

Leather purse handles can be cleaned with a soft brush, mild soap, and water, or a gentle leather cleaner.

How do you get jean stains out of a leather purse?

Jean or denim stains can be removed from a leather purse using mild soap and water with a neutral or white colored washcloth.  Rub gently and avoid soaking the leather, then dry with a microfiber towel or old t-shirt.

Why does white leather turn yellow?

White leather will turn yellow over time due to oxidation.  It’s simply exposure to air, sun, dust, and the environment that will break down the leather fibers and turn white leather to yellow.

How do you make a leather purse look brand new again?

Start with a soft brush to remove any dirt or debris.  Then use mild soap and water with a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to wash the leather.  Dry with a clean microfiber towel and follow up with a leather conditioner.

How Real People Clean Their Leather Purses

I asked friends and family members what methods they use to clean a leather purse.  Here is a table representing the percentage of their response and what I learned from the poll about how to clean a leather purse.

Leather Purse Cleaning MethodsTimes Selected
People who do not clean their leather purses57%
People who spot clean their leather purses using leather wipes7%
People who clean their leather purses using soap and water14%
People who clean their leather purses with leather cleaner22%
Methods for Cleaning a Leather Purse

Final Thoughts 

Leather purses are a good investment for any wardrobe as they can last for a very long time.  They’re designed to stand up to many things through daily use, but accidents can happen.  When spills and stains occur, hopefully, you’ll feel confident enough now to clean a leather purse after reading this article.  It’s easy and will keep your leather purses looking great for your lifetime and maybe another!

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